Sunday, May 30, 2010

Memorial Day challenges...maybe not so challenging!

We had a little cookout with some friends...the usual suspects were there-Brats, burgers, you know the rest. Though I'm normally not a fan of soy products that parade around as something else (if it's a veggie burger, I like to see the veggies), I decided to try Morning Star Farms grillers prime (I think that's what it was called). It was supposed to have that true "flame broiled" taste. I decided to put it in the toaster while the meats were on the grill. I topped it off with some sauteed onions I made, some cheese, a pickle, and a little ketchup. Not bad! It still had that smell that some soy products have, but the toppings masked it pretty well. Not sure if I would buy it again, but it was nice not to have a completely different meal than everyone else. Sides were easy- caprese salad and chips of course :) I felt good about being meat-free urges for a burger, definitely not for a brat. It was also the first time that I went out of my way to make sure my pretend burger wasn't cooked next to the real more time passes being meat-free, the more unappetizing meat becomes to me. I did briefly forget that I was vegetarian when Jen mentioned her dad wanting to make a deep fried turkey, but I caught myself, and ended the excitement (and by ending the excitement, I mean stopped jumping up and down)...there's just something so wrong, but so right about a deep fried turkey....


I also had my first day of volunteering at the PAWS spay/neuter clinic this morning. It went really well! I spent most of the morning cleaning ears, cutting nails, helping dogs and cats to wake up from anesthesia, and pulling out a few breathing tubes! Overall I really liked it and felt good about it...all except the dog that came in to be spayed, and turned out to be pregnant. Of course I peaked into the OR just as the vet tech was giving the euthanasia shots to all the tiny puppies (they didn't really look all that much like puppies, but I still knew, and it was still really sad). I made myself feel better by playing with the tiny fluffy gray kitten named Rupert, which is such a great name for a fluffy gray kitten!

Hope everyone is having a great Memorial Day weekend!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Sorry I've Been Slacking!!!

Sorry I haven't been adding anything (not that you probably are checking everyday, hanging onto my every last word, but humor me for a moment and pretend you do!). I have been super busy trying to get in shape for the summer!!! Not only have I been hitting the gym like a mad woman, but I also have really been paying close attention to what I am eating. I made a really good broccoli and seitan stirfry the other night that was a big hit with Justin. I just diced up the seitan, and added it to a wok with some fresh broccoli, onion, and garlic in a little canola oil. Then made a sauce with hoisin (like an Asian bbq sauce), Siracha chili sauce (my favorite hot sauce! It's the one in the Asian aisle with the green top. It's super hot, so be careful!), a little veggie broth, and some liquid aminos. It was really good and VERY filling! I also made a 3 bean chili in the crockpot that turned out pretty tasty! In the mornings, I've been drinking a protein shake that I buy at my gym. I like the vanilla, and I blend it up with a frozen banana and some unsweetened almond milk (which is only 40 calories, woot woot!). For lunch most days, I've been eating an avocado with some lime juice squeezed on the top, and a yogurt, or grabbing a salad or veggie sub with no cheese from subway.

I'm going to an orientation for volunteering at an animal shelter on Wednesday, I'm really excited about it!!!

Have a good week everyone!!!

Couscous Salad!!!

Heading over to the Santiago's for a cookout, so I decided to make an Israeli couscous salad. It is AMAZINGLY DELICIOUS...and gorgeous!!!!! I've made it a few times, but I think this is my favorite version. Israeli (or Middle Eastern) couscous is just about the cutest food there is (besides apricots, aka "baby butts" according to Justin). They are fun little balls that you can do pretty much anything with. Sometimes I just cook some up in veggie broth and eat it as a side dish, other times, I've mixed in curry powder, potatoes, onions, peppers, chicken (before i went veggie, now i would probably try tofu or seitan) and made a whole meal out of it. Anyway, here is the recipe for the salad I made today:

-3 cups Israeli couscous
-4 cups veggie broth or water (if using water, flavor it up a little with salt and maybe some garlic powder)

-2 granny smith apples, chopped into like 1/2 inch cubes (leave the skin on)

-dried cranberries chopped up

-slivered or sliced almonds (you can also use pinenuts, or probably walnuts would be good too!)
-fresh rosemary chopped tiny
-some grapes, sliced length wise

-red onion, minced really tiny

dressing-i'm not really a measurer, so start with maybe 2 parts olive oil to 1 part acid

-juice from 1 lemon
apple cider vinegar (you can use both lemon and vinegar, or just 1 or the other...i like both)

-little honey
-olive oil

Cook the couscous in the broth or water UNCOVERED until all the liquid is absorbed (it only takes maybe 10-15 minutes, depending on how wide your pan is).
Throw the still warm cooked couscous into a bowl, and add in all of the ingredients, mix together. In a small container, add the ingredients for the dressing, and shake into a frenzy. Pour over couscous and stir. Cover the salad and stick it in the fridge until it is cool. It gets better the longer it sits.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Veggie Enchiladas!!!

Tonight is veggie enchilada night!!! The filling consisted of 1 eggplant, 1 onion, a handful of roasted red peppers (from a jar), 1 package of thawed and well drained frozen spinach, and 1 green bell pepper. I chopped everything pretty small, and added it all to a frying pan with some canola oil. After things had softened, I added a small can of tomato paste, and some pepperjack and fontina cheese. After 5 "tasting" spoonfuls, I broke out the flour tortillas, gave them each a quick zap over the gas burner, and generously filled each one. I placed all of them into a casserole dish, covered them in red enchilada sauce (jarred), added a little extra cheese, then put it in the oven at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes. DELICIOUS!!!!!!!!!

For an extra authentic Mexican side gratin potatoes. Justin had his wisdom teeth out on Friday, so no rice for the Webers for the next little while!

Hope everyone's weekend was great! Happy Mother's Day!!!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Breakfast is getting better!

I have found the cure to my breakfast woes. Tofu scramble! I'll post a picture once I get it more pretty looking :) For this morning's scramble, I sauteed some red onion, garlic, and green peppers in olive oil. Then I crumbled up tofu that I had froze, defrosted, and squeezed the living daylights out of. I added in some nutritional yeast, and my new favorite condiment, liquid aminos, and sauteed for a bit more. At this point, Justin roamed into the kitchen wondering what the amazing smell was. He tasted, and his response was, "Wow! That is not what I expected that to taste like! I'd eat that for a nice weekend breakfast!" woo hoo!!! Always nice to impress Justin!

Second cure has been a peanut butter granola from Aunt P. It's pretty loaded with peanut butter, a decent amount of butter, more than a touch of honey, you get the I've only been having a little. In the morning, I eat maybe 1/3 of a cup with a whole sliced banana, and I cover everything in vanilla almond milk. YUM! Justin is also pretty crazy for the granola. His words were, "that Aunt Peg...she knows what she's doing."

And a sidenote about lunch. I've been on a salad kick, which is pretty big because I don't really love salad. But I do love this one (mainly because of all the stuff!). I use spring mix, and add dried cranberries, apples, grapes, leftover black beans, red onion, raw walnuts, bleu cheese, and avocado. I made a dressing with rice vinegar, olive oil, honey, and a little salt, and it has really been quite a satisfying lunch!

And another sidenote about my naughty cats: I left half a bag of white cheddar popcorn on the counter before I went to the gym (sure, white cheddar popcorn is the perfect before gym snack!). When Justin got home from his run, he found the silverware drawer open (or should we call it a step stool), and the popcorn all over the floor. Nice going boys.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Black Bean Goodness!

I was always pretty intimidated by dried beans, but I decided to give them a go! I picked up some dried black beans, brought them home, soaked them in a bowl of water for about an hour, and rinsed them. I dumped them into a pot with an onion, a few cloves of garlic, some tomato paste, and salt. I covered them with vegetable broth and water, put a lid on the pot and let them do their thing. About 2 hours later, they were done. YUMMMMMMM!!!!! They taste so much better than canned beans (and so much cheaper!)! We made tacos with them, and I also put some on my salad for lunch. I highly recommend exploring with dried beans!!!

Sunday, May 2, 2010


I was feeling adventurous today and decided to make my own seitan. Seitan is sometimes referred to as "wheat meat." Appetizing, right? I've never tried it before, but it is pretty expensive in the store. I was going to taste the packaged stuff first, but then I figured that my homemade stuff would have a better shot at tasting good (to me anyway) if I didn't know any different! It is made from wheat gluten, and really has a meaty consistency. Most of the recipes I found called for boiling the prepared dough, but I came across one that you baked. I thought baking seemed easier, so I went with that one. My seitan consists of:
Vital wheat gluten
Dried Onion
Garlic powder
Nutritional Yeast
Liquid Amino Acids
Vegetable Broth
Tomato Paste

So many new and fun ingredients that I'm working with!!! Let's start with the nutritional yeast...nutritional yeast is an inactive yeast that comes in flake form. It has kind of a salty, cheesy taste, like Parmesan cheese. I've had it before sprinkled on popcorn, and also have used it for coating tofu slices before frying. It is also a good ingredient to use because it is a source of vitamin B12, which can be a hard vitamin for vegetarians to get since it's mainly found in meats. I get it in the bulk section and Whole Foods.

Next new ingredient...liquid amino acids. I didn't even know where one would locate this product!!! So exciting!!! I finally found it in the Asian section right next to the soy sauce and tamari. The label claims that it is a favorite amongst vegetarians, and that it is great on salads, in soups and stews. Basically a great flavor adder!

Everything was mixed together in the Kitchen Aid, then wrapped in foil and baked for an hour. The end result looks like this:

I realize this does not look amazing...but it is! At first, it kind of tasted like a weird form of bread...I think. It's super chewy and nice and savory. I'm not exactly sure what I'm going to do with it, but I'm thinking maybe a sandwich, or tossed in some bbq sauce and served over rice. Maybe thrown into a stir-fry! It's so hearty, it could probably hold up in soups as well. I've been cutting off chunks all evening just to eat! I wasn't sure what Justin would say about this one...but he really liked it too (really, he did!).

Saturday, May 1, 2010

New Dining Out Experiences!

Yesterday was Justin's birthday, so we went to one of our favorite restaurants, Opera. I always either get a beef or chicken dish, so I was feeling a little down about going, but when we got there, I was pleasantly surprised to see the new vegetarian section on their menu! The last time we were there, they had a vegan section with like 2 of them being mixed vegetables over rice noodles. delicious right? Anyway, this time, I chose the kung pao tofu and it was AMAZING! The sauce was nice and thick and super spicy. I was really impressed with how the chef cooked the tofu, it must have been pressed because it was really chewy and textury!

Today we went to the Cubs game, where I would normally have a huge italian beef sandwich, or possibly a hot dog. This time around, I had some nachos and peanuts. Still in the unhealthy range, but meat free nonetheless! After the game we headed over to another one of our favorite restaurants, Piece. It is a pizzeria and brewery
, and it is fabulous. Mashed potatoes and garlic were the toppings of choice for today....YUMMMMM!!!!!!! Pizza is super easy for me because I was never a big "pizza meat" type of girl.

I'm happy to say that I have stayed successful in my journey, and look forward to doing a little more cooking this week!!!